- Frank, Anne
- (1929–45)Nazi victim. On her thirteenth birthday, 12 June 1942, Anne Frank received amongst her presents an exercise book with a stiff cover, in which she began to keep a diary. She noted that it was an odd idea, for who would be interested in the thoughts of a young schoolgirl. ‘Still I want to write, but more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart’. The diary itself would be her friend and she would call it ‘Kitty’. To start with, ‘Dear Kitty’ is told something about Anne’s family background. She records that ‘as we are Jewish’ they had to leave their home in Frankfurt-am-Main, where she and her sister Margot, three years older, were born. They had started life again in Amsterdam, where her father had business interests. But in May 1940, the Netherlands was occupied by the Germans. Anne set down in a matter-of-fact way the anti-Jewish decrees under which they lived, including the wearing of a yellow star and being forbidden to ride in trams, go to non-Jewish shops, visit a cinema, take part in sports, or have social ties with Christians. That entry ends cheerfully, ‘So far everything is alright with the four of us.’ Her father said to her, ‘Make the most of your carefree young life while you can.’ He was quietly preparing a secret hiding place in two rooms at the back of the firm’s warehouse. They disappeared into them on 9 July 1942, when Mr Frank received his ‘call-up’ notice from the Nazi authorities.For the next two years, eight Jews lived in this cramped space - the Frank family, a Mr and Mrs Van Daan and their son Peter (two years older than Anne), and Mr Dussel, a dentist. Faithful Dutch friends risked their own lives by bringing them food through an entrance to the secret annex covered by a bookcase. Anne’s diary chronicled their lives and relationships with perception and candour, and a growing talent as a writer. She confided to ‘Dear Kitty’ her own hopes and fears, her tender feelings for Peter, the glimpses of the outside world seen through a crack in the curtain arid the news that reached them about the war. Through it her natural gaiety and zest for life remained intact. They heard about the Normandy landings at the beginning of June 1944, and the Allied armies battling their way into Europe. Their hopes rose that the liberators were coming. Who came instead on 4 August 1944 were the Gestapo, accompanied by Dutch Nazis. Someone had betrayed them.The epilogue to the story was pieced together from the Nazi archives of death and from the accounts of survivors. The occupants of the annex were packed off in cattle trucks to Auschwitz, the concentration camp in Poland. Mr Van Daan was sent to the gas chambers. Nothing is known of his wife’s fate, nor Peter’s, nor that of Mr Dussel. Anne’s mother died in the camp. Anne and her sister were sent to the Bergen-Belsen extermination centre, where they both died of typhus. The only survivor was Mr Frank. He was lying in the camp hospital when Auschwitz was liberated. When he came back to Amsterdam, two Dutch girls, friends of Anne, handed him her diary. It had been found among some old newspapers on the floor of the secret hiding-place. It was first published in 1947 and became widely known through the play and the film based on it. The house in Amsterdam where they had hidden was turned into the Anne Frank Youth Centre. This bright young girl had been swallowed up by the vast Nazi slaughter machine, and had become an infinitesimal fraction of a statistic - ‘the six million’.But for millions of people she lived on as a human symbol of what had happened to her generation of Jews in Europe.
Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. Joan Comay . 2012.